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Thoughts from CenterTable’s 6th SXSWi Denver Download

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Capitalizing on in-person opportunities as well as digital opportunities brings us Back to the Future.

Last week we hosted our sixth South by Southwest Interactive “Denver Download” – a chance for our clients and partners who attended the SXSWi conference in March to share the knowledge they gained with other clients, partners and colleagues back here in Denver. This year’s panel consisted of Comcast’s Cindy Parsons (who hosted one of the festival’s on-site social media lounges), Sukle’s Dan Schultz, Children Hospital Colorado’s Elizabeth Whitehead and yours truly. Below is a recap of common themes that were discussed during the event – all relevant concepts to look to as evolving trends in digital marketing in 2017.

Knowing your audience (and segmenting your messaging and marketing plan accordingly) is more important than ever.

Gone are the days of distributing one message to as many people as possible through digital channels. With so many social media and digital marketing platforms, combined with the fact that it’s not “solely Millennials” using Instagram or “only older people” using Facebook, it’s more important than ever to create specific audience personas and speak directly to each one of them with tailored content and messaging. Read more after the jump…

Using technology to keep up… with technology

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The digital world is changing faster than a cheetah on Red Bull and it can feel impossible to keep up. However, careful planning and an understanding of what is driving your audience, whether it’s sources they trust, amazing photos and experiences or a particular need, can still help marketers connect people to products and brands. Even better, in the not too distant future, technology will help solve the challenges it creates. Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning can help you reach the right people with the right product at the right time.

Case Studies

USA Today: People Freaking Out Over Starbucks Unicorn Frappuccino
Starbucks hopped on the Unicorn food train with a colorful Unicorn frappuccino this week. It had the internet and the brave taste testers in our office buzzing, but the “buzz” may have been from the sugar coated sugar. Either way, they’ve seen plenty of social media conversation from the extremely limited run product. Lessons learned? There is no amount of sugar Americans won’t try. Don’t forget to think about the picture people will take when you’re coming up with ideas. If nothing else the neon Unicorn drink makes great Instagram fodder.

Influencers

The Globe and Mail: Consumer Trust in Social Media Influencers Drops
This one comes from our neighbors to the north. In Canada, like the United States, there are laws requiring bloggers to disclose corporate sponsors. They’ve studied the effect of those laws on consumer trust. Spoiler alert – people place lower trust in bloggers now than prior to the enactment of the law. Canadians rated “bloggers you follow” far below sources like “company websites” as a trusted source of information about products and brands. When you’re thinking about creating an influencer campaign remember, large follower counts don’t always equate to influence. People still trust themselves and friends most.
P.S. We learned a new term – “astroturfing” is when a company’s employees post positive reviews about their company without disclosing their conflict of interest.

Artificial Intelligence

Occam’s Razor: Artificial Intelligence: Implications On Marketing, Analytics, And You
This one is from my data crush Avinash Kaushik, Google’s Digital Marketing Evangelist. Data driven marketing really gets my heart racing. Kaushik’s view is that Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning (ML) are poised to make great digital marketing strides, solving the right place, right time problem at scale. ML is capable of creating the perfect email campaign for every person, we’re just waiting for people to build the tech that takes advantage of those capabilities. Some companies are already using ML to accomplish things like getting ads for hotel rooms in front of stranded airport travelers.

Facebook

TechCrunch: Everything Facebook Launched at Both Days of F8 and Why
Marketers might not always tune into developer conferences, but it’s at least worth noting what Facebook talks about at F8. Their announcements about virtual reality and direct brain interfaces sound sexy but some of the more homely elements like QR codes that can trigger in-person experiences and analytics driven by AI have the potential for a bigger impact on marketers’ lives.

On the Blog: 

Project Highlight:

 

smart-ash-branding-website-featuredDenver Parks & Recreation | Be a Smart Ash Branding
April is Child Abuse Prevention Month, making it a great time to highlight the design work we’ve done on the annual reports for Tennyson Center for Children, a nonprofit that works wonders with victims of child abuse.

Are You Addicted to Your Smart Phone?

Screen Shot 2017-04-20 at 7.06.34 PMWhy do so many of us feel compelled to check our smart phones so frequently? And why do we get an anxious feeling if we haven’t checked our phone recently? In a recent 60 Minutes segment, Anderson Cooper explored our obsession with our smart phones and the physiological reaction many of us have, such as every time we get an alert on our phone, it triggers a release of cortisol, which makes us anxious, and our goal is to rid the anxiety so we keep checking in.

Addiction Explained

Everywhere you go today, in the U.S. or abroad, you see people of all ages walking around with their heads down looking at their phones. According to Tristan Harris, a former Google product manager, the smart phone is like a slot machine, every time you check it, you’re pulling the lever to see if you get a reward. And the rewards are texts from friends, new likes, cute emoji’s, etc.

Read more after the jump…

PR Snafus from the Week that Was — and Social Media’s Response to Them

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There’s a social media axiom heavily utilized – some would say over utilized – by those seeking to juxtapose gaffes alongside even bigger gaffes. That term? “Hold my beer.” To say it was used a lot this week might be an understatement. In this week’s editions of Weekly Reads, we take a look at how social media responded to some of the biggest PR snafus from the week that was. 

USA Today: Airlines take to Twitter to exploit United’s misfortune

United Airlines CEO Oscar Munoz has put his foot in his mouth several times in the wake of a video-taped incident that saw a United passenger dragged off a flight. Munoz may also now regret the time he described his competitors in the Persian Gulf as “not real airlines.” At the very least, it seems Emirates and Royal Jordanian airlines haven’t forgotten about that old comment, as both took to Twitter this week to reexamine it alongside some of United’s recent blunders.

NPR: Unforeseen Achilles heel of clever Burger King marketing ploy

Burger King produced an ad in which its spokesperson tells the camera, “OK Google, what is the Whopper burger?” The ad was meant to activate Google Home devices, which would then in turn read off a description of the Whopper burger from Wikipedia. It proved to be a very clever and effective ploy — until someone changed the ingredients in the Whopper on Wikipedia to “chocolate candy, toenail clippings, cyanide, rat and a medium-sized child.”

Huffington Post: Public perception of Pepsi’s Kendall Jenner surprisingly mixed

Pepsi quickly pulled and apologized for an ad featuring Kendall Jenner after critics widely scorned the company for seeming to purport that the offering of a soft drink might quell tensions between police officers and Black Lives Matter protesters. But interestingly enough, an online poll found that 44 percent of those surveyed had a more favorable view of Pepsi after viewing the ad.

Washington Post: News about ‘white is purity’ campaign from Nivea gets buried

In the ad campaign you may have missed amidst the backlash about the three larger companies just mentioned, Nivea tossed up a post on its Middle Eastern Facebook page as part of a deodorant campaign that suggested “White is Purity.” Perhaps as ill-fated as the campaign itself, the company took to social media with the quasi-justification that the Facebook post was somehow less offensive because it was intended for a Middle Eastern audience.

CBS News: Anti-Defamation League seizes opportunity presented by Sean Spicer

Perhaps the most widely publicized gaffe of the week came from White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer. In an attempt to criticize Bashar al-Assad’s chemical weapons attack in Syria, Spicer claimed “not even Hitler used chemical weapons” — a claim that flew in the face of the fact that Hitler used gas chambers during the Holocaust. The Anti-Defamation League used the misstep as an avenue to promote its Holocaust education classes, making a public offer to discount its classes if Spicer should want to enroll.

On the Blog:

Project Highlight:

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Tennyson Center for Children | Gratitude Annual Report Design

April is Child Abuse Prevention Month, making it a great time to highlight the design work we’ve done on the annual reports for Tennyson Center for Children, a nonprofit that works wonders with victims of child abuse.

The Art of an Apology Tested in the Past Week

sorry_desuIt’s been a week of very public apologies: Pepsi, United Airlines and White House press secretary Sean Spicer.

Without getting into the merits of each crisis communication instance, since we have already worn a path around the water cooler, in general there are some best practices to make an effective apology that will at least take a bit of the sting out of a negative situation.

Immediacy: When something goes wrong and your reputation is at stake, the sooner you apologize, the better. This can be difficult, without knowing all the facts and when dealing with legal issues. But, an immediate apology that expresses remorse, admits responsibility, makes amends and promises that it won’t happen again should still feel real without having completed a full investigation.

Use Social Media: Either through Twitter, Facebook, YouTube — apologize on a platform that your target audiences are following. Read more after the jump…

Sources for Social Media Ideas

Social Media Ideas ResearchWhere do you get your social media ideas? When you hear the words “brainstorming” or “creativity,” you may not immediately associate them with science and research, but I do. When I see a calendar invitation to a brainstorming session, I make a note to make time for some research. I’m not talking about what competitors are up to, though that too is important. I’m talking about finding a LexisNexis log in and doing some digging to see what the scientific community says about the topic. You’d be surprised what exists out there to inspire your work.

Most recently, I did some work with a child abuse prevention nonprofit and stumbled across the amazing Frameworks research that studied how people in various demographics responded to different message framing related to child abuse prevention. This research is widely used amongst nonprofits working on this topic. It has great insights like “because so many frames have the effect of lifting support for child abuse and neglect policies, child welfare advocates on this issue have the opportunity to create some synergy across child development issues by using frames that also elevate other areas of child development.”  To translate, there are many ways of talking about child abuse that can be effective, but a few strategic ones will also help everyone else working on the topic. In coming up with ideas for this April, which is child abuse prevention month, we kept that research in mind.

The child abuse example is just one of many. If the topic relevant to you doesn’t have extensive existing research there can be more broad ways to investigate, such as looking for research related to online giving and social pressure for nonprofits. Or even understanding theories related to how people choose what to buy. This study tested whether people offered a coupon for jelly bought more when they could choose between 26 flavors or 6 flavors. More people were attracted to the big display, but more people actually bought jelly when there were fewer choices.

If you want to propel your agenda, build a movement, and change the narrative, you’re going to need some powerful social media ideas for content. Why not start with a Google search to leverage psychology, cognitive science, and the latest social science research to help lead you to success?

Stop Chasing Short-term Corporate Sponsorship Dollars

Corporate Dollars & Sponsorships Graphic | GroundFloor MediaLet’s be honest, chasing corporate sponsorships or charitable donations is a challenging job for both the nonprofit partner and the corporate partner. Wouldn’t it be nice to secure long-term partnerships that allow for building relationships, additional time for strategic planning, the ability to execute events and/or programs AND generate measurable results? YES!

I love this quote by Stephen Kinzer, “Alliances and partnerships produce stability when they reflect realities and interests.” Getting the stars to align is no small task. However, here are a few tips for moving things in the right direction for corporate giving teams and nonprofit partners:

Read more after the jump…

An Introvert in the Extroverted World of PR

IMG_2381 (1)I am unquestionably an introvert. I love people, and I love being around people… until it’s time to recharge. Then, I need to be alone. With a good book, hiking the trail near my home, or simply laying down and staring at the ceiling fan. I need to be quiet, turn my focus inward and regroup. Afterwards, I’m ready to be around people again.

Read more after the jump…

Will Every Social Media Platform Eventually Have “Stories?”

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The big news this week is Facebook adding “Stories” to its main app – copying Instagram, which copied Snapchat. This raises a lot of questions for those of us in the content creation world. As social platforms begin to look more and more like one another it raises two conflicting questions: What’s possibly next, and where does it end? We’re also featuring an article that discusses the fine line between over-sharing and avoiding social media altogether.

Facebook:

AdAge: Facebook Adds Disappearing ‘Stories’ to Main App, Copying Snapchat Yet Again
It was only a matter of time: Facebook Stories are here. The immediate knee jerk reaction is likely, “REALLY!?!? Now we have to create disappearing stories on THREE different platforms!!” But as marketers, we need to remember that our audiences expect different content on different platforms (after all, they are different audiences inherently on each platform), and we can help set expectations for the type, and amount of content we produce for each channel… even if three of them have similar features.

Instagram:

Glossy: How Instagram Beat Out Snapchat as Fashion’s ‘Social Media Darling’
Speaking of competition for “stories,” this article is a great breakdown of how one industry has self-selected Instagram over Snapchat, and how Instagram Stories played a major role in adoption (not to mention the platform’s more “polished” look and feel). A similar sentiment to the story listed above – different audiences are looking for different content on various platforms. At least for today… Instagram boasts an audience with more spending power than Snapchat.

Digital Advertising:

The Drum: Internet Ad Spend to Surpass TV for the First Time in 2017
For those of us born before 1997 (haha), it’s easy to remember the stories about digital advertising’s growth – from double-digits, eventually to “billions” – and now we’re approaching another milestone. As content offerings change user behavior, digital advertising spends are poised to surpass television spends this year.

Trends:

Ad Age: Video: The Darker Side of Data
More time spent on digital platforms means more advertising spend on said platforms. Which begs the question, “Will all of this data and automation lead to mistrust, or consumer backlash, in the future?” This article outlines how a recent murder case in Arkansas was seeking data from an Amazon Echo and explores the line between convenience and privacy. To be sure, “We need to approach these tools and platforms in a way that never breaches the trust, and that we do so in a way that is secure and sustainable.”

On the Blog:

Even Professional Designers Need a Creative Outlet – This week, our creative mind, Ben Hock, explores where a creative type can find some inspiration.

Project Highlight:

ncsl-seo-case-study-e1475013106965National Conference of State Legislatures | SEO
Our team used search engine optimization strategies to boost the wealth of unique content in organic search, leading to increased readership.